TFL FINALS: What decided Premier Men’s semi
Gatton’s Alexander Edwards (7th minute) opened the scoring before Nathan Skinner (10th) drew his side level.
Willowburn midfielder Alastair McGorm was then shown a straight red after his challenge on a Gatton attacker in the 15th minute.
Neither side had time to dwell on the card, though, after Skinner scored his second goal in the 17th minute.
“It wasn’t the game I was predicting,” Willowburn coach Jamie McMillan said.
“It was the start I wanted – we had the right headspace, the right mentality.
“But then to get the red card – that obviously wasn’t how we wanted things to go.”
Willowburn took a 2-1 lead into the break and steeled themselves for an intense second-half.
Gatton piled on the pressure after the break pressing forward quickly at every opportunity but Willowburn remained resilient.
The Redbacks created numerous chances late in the game – forcing a number of saves from Mat Eilers – and when the Willowburn keeper was beaten the woodwork got in the way.
Willowburn created their opportunities on the counter-attack and held on for a 2-1 win.
“You can’t really train for playing with 10-men,” McMillan said.
“But this week we were focused on toughness and grit.
“I guess that was just well-timed because we rose to the occasion after we went a man down.”
The result was a hard one to take for Gatton coach Jon Edwards and his team.
“It’s disappointing to come so close and have those opportunities,” Edwards said.
“It would’ve been nice for at least one of those (second half) opportunities to hit the back of the net.
“We’re a young side, and the boys were a bit nervous before the game, and to Willowburn’s credit they defended really well.”
Originally published as TFL FINALS: What decided Premier Men’s semi